Being Famous Doesn’t Make You Less

Imagine, for a moment, that you have a child. (If you already have a child, feel free to picture him or her.) Your child is an adult, studying a craft. Let’s say this craft is photography.

You are proud of this accomplishment. In fact, you’re ecstatic. You see, your kid has an opportunity to study as an apprentice to an expert photographer – someone whose work he/she admires greatly. You can vote to show support, but the votes don’t determine who gets the apprenticeship (see the rules and guidelines here). A website goes up. Anyone in the fifty US states can vote to show support. You can vote for more than one person, if you choose to do so.

You, as an excited parent, mention this on your Facebook page. You don’t ask anyone to vote for your child – but you’re clearly beaming. “Look! My kid made this! And, if he/she gets the apprenticeship, it will be a life-changing experience, a rare opportunity.”

That’s all you say/do. You are simply a parent, whose kid is pursuing a dream and learning a skill. Excellent, yes?

Then, imagine that you are well-known. Some might even call you famous. You’re a writer. Shit, you’re Neil Gaiman. You’ve had tea with the Queen. (I don’t know if he really has. I made that up. Moving on.)

You’re a rather famous author. You do exactly as mentioned above. You don’t tell people to vote for your daughter. You don’t give any incentive to do that. You’re not giving away prizes or any such nonsense.

No, you’re just a parent proud of his daughter. And, slowly, people get rather persnickety. No one, to my knowledge, who has a vested interest in this contest his daughter Holly’s entered in. Holly, by the way, is a milliner. She is talented. I can sew on a button. If I had to make a hat, it would be out of tinfoil or newspaper. I’m not skilled in that direction.

But back to the point. A disturbing number of people are taking issue with that retweet and that FB post, mentioning Holly. It is, to be blunt, ridiculous. Any parent worth his salt would mention such a thing to anyone and everyone. FB, emails, phone calls – that’s the norm. Now, because the particular parent is well-known, this morphs into a problem, somehow.

I don’t know Holly or Neil. But I am completely annoyed on their behalves. (Behalves is an actual word. Who knew?)

Famous or not, a parent is a parent. You can’t simply take away that right to share Kid Facts and Accomplishments, based on occupation. Sure, you can attempt to couch it in terms of justice, but really – it’s just petty. Yes, Neil Gaiman is a famous author. So, what? That means the rest of his life should disappear? I don’t think so.

You don’t stop being YOU when you have a cool job. You don’t stop being YOU when people recognize you on the street. You don’t stop being YOU when you marry someone famous. If you’re on TV, people don’t own the rest of your life. If you write novels, people might (hopefully) adore them. Some of that adoration might spill over into/onto you. That doesn’t control the rest of your life. It doesn’t stamp out who you are. It doesn’t make you any less of a person or a parent.

And I don’t think it’s fair to expect that it should.

  1. August 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Great post, Alison. I guess the general public has a tendency to forget that artists (whatever their ilk) are humans too. It’s absolutely natural to want to crow about your children and those who think that someone in the spotlight shouldn’t do so should probably be put into a special holding pen. Even W.C. Fields didn’t get quite so curmudgeonly.

    The world really should lighten up!

    • Ali
      August 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm

      Julio, thank you so much for reading and commenting! I agree with you, too — people DO need to lighten up.

  2. August 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Excellent point, Ali! It’s just not possible to split ourselves into compartments that represent each of the roles we fill. My online presence is just that: MINE. I agree with Julio – people need to lighten up. And as one person commented on Neil’s FB page – he posted a link. He never twisted anyone’s mouse to actually click the Vote button.

    • Ali
      August 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm

      Patty, I completely agree. We can’t compartmentalize who we are. I don’t think that would even be healthy. I saw that comment on Neil’s FB, and I agree. No one forced anyone to vote. To say otherwise is silly! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!!

  3. Josh A. Kruschke
    August 16, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Class envy.

    Not that there really is any such thing as class. Some people have just amassed more crap than others in their life’s rats-nest. Sometimes that just happens to be notoriety.


  4. August 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    As a parent of a daughter myself I know what it is like to be proud, sometimes you just want to tell everyone in every way possible. I completely understand where he is coming from and I really love her hat. It’s very beautiful and I love that she explained her inspiration and you very much so see it manifested in the hat.
    I voted for her because it’s a lovely hat, not because of her last name or her father.

    • Ali
      August 18, 2011 at 8:22 am

      Jess, thank you for sharing your thoughts!!! I’m really glad that you did. And when is the last time you blogged, chica? I miss your writing.

  5. August 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    I could not agree with you more, m’dear. As a parent myself, I know for a fact that when (*she says hopefully*) I become a published and famous (?) author I’m not going to stop being proud of Jack and bragging about his every move. My ability to write in no way takes away from my rights as a parent.

    • Ali
      August 18, 2011 at 8:21 am

      If you did, I’d be the first to remind you otherwise. But I could never see you doing that. Plus, Jack? AWESOME.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: